2008 January 24

Valentino - Paris Couture Spring 2008

Valentino Couture Spring 2008 Valentino Couture Spring 2008
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(PARIS) The man, the myth, the ultimate fashion legend. Valentino set all of Paris ablaze Wednesday night as he bid au revoir to his monumental haute couture career that started as a sparkle of a dream in his eye 45 years ago in his native Italy. His spring collection of 74 looks came together in a splendid cacophony of rich oversized florals à la the southern belle, elegant subdued suits and jackets from the Jackie-O era, a myriad of sleek white column dresses destined for the red carpet, and, in what will go down in the annals of fashion history, a finale that featured 30 identical silk gowns parading down a gleaming mirrored runway all in red, natch.

Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Alber Elbaz, Emanuel and Laura Ungaro, Miuccia Prada, Claudia Schiffer, Eva Herzigova, and Nadja Auermann all sitting in the front row represented a cross-section of the 900+ audience members his designs have impacted over the decades. Unlike his July extravaganza in Rome, there were no fireworks against the Coliseum or Annie Lennox live on the grand piano (although her hit, “No More I Love You,” did blast from the speakers during the finale). No retrospective greeted guests as they entered the Musée Rodin, although Valentino will stage an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in June.

Subdued and discreet was his last hurrah, and the only disappointment in the entire show--if one can call it that--was not a tear was shed by Valentino as he remained calm and collected in taking his final bow (the same could not be said backstage, nor of his audience, who jumped to their feet and lavished him with deafening applause).

“I’m leaving at the top,” said the designer backstage. “I will take a vacation and then work on theater or ballet.”

And the clothes? Well, how about them: a perfect symphony of his storied past and current appeal, from the first look--Natalia Vodianova in a breezy pink tunic and embroidered floral skirt, complete with a retro bow of a chapeau created by Philip Treacy. Those expecting Valentino’s greatest hits were pleasantly surprised by the modern interpretations in the form of gorgeous coats, suits, and jackets in simple palettes that ran the gamut all the way to all-out flower power.

Evening equated to two simple words: ultimate glamour. His signature hand was there in the chiffons, crepes, beading, and embroideries, all of which oozed class and perfection--anyway you spell it. Utilizing such colors as pistachio, sky blue, champagne, ivory, and mandarin, it was a terrific lineup of memorable pieces, including a gold embroidered silk Mikado dress, a white polka-dot satin jacquard dress, and powder silk charmeuse cocktail dress.

Indeed, these are some polished, crafted steps to follow. Alessandra Facchinetti, the former Gucci designer who was on hand to witness the end of one era, and who has been charged with turning the page on a new chapter at Valentino, has one hard act to follow.